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Workforce stuck in 'vicious circle'

Peter Bennie portrait serious
BENNIE: Going above and beyond

The leader of Scotland’s doctors has warned that the system is being stretched beyond its means by a ‘vicious circle’ of funding challenges, demographic change and multiple targets.

BMA Scottish council chair Peter Bennie said that extreme pressures on the Scottish NHS this winter demonstrated the need for long-term, sustainable solutions that address the growing gap between demand and resources.

Speaking after the Scottish health secretary Shona Robison, and first minister Nicola Sturgeon publicly thanked NHS staff for their hard work and dedication, Dr Bennie said that doctors and other staff were going above and beyond what was asked of them – and added that it was not ‘thanks’ that the workforce wanted.

‘Instead of gratitude, we need a long-term, sustainable plan that closes the growing gap between resources – in particular finances – and the demand for services,’ Dr Bennie said.

‘And we must not simply dismiss this as the inevitable increase in pressure that winter brings. This time of year can bring the challenges the NHS faces on a daily basis into a sharper focus. But ultimately, there is simply not the funding or plans in place to go on as we are, regardless of what season we are in.’

He said that multiple targets, an ageing population and the funding gap were creating a vicious circle, ‘stretching the system and the workforce beyond their means’.

‘In winter, that results in the type of rapid deterioration of services that we have seen over recent days. But over the course of the rest of the year it also means the ongoing eroding of standards.’

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